Friday, 11 May 2012

As one leaves another arrives ....

Volunteers play an important role at the Happy House and for students  it provides a chance to experience another culture and another world - way beyond anything they have experienced before.
Christina Gkouvali, 22, from Athens left yesterday after eight weeks with our family.
A political science graduate, she is about to move on to a Masters in Sustainable Environment and Development  at the London School of Economics and wanted, first,  to learn learn more about Africa. "If you have not seen it how can you know what needs development," she says.
So coming to our family, and seeing and sampling life beyond the Happy House walls, has been eye-opening. She says she has learnt much about the culture,  some of the language, and the food from our children.
They too have been interested in her. "Their curiosity about why my skin goes red when it is pinched and my veins are blue has fascinated them. They see many visitors but never seem to get bored with the differences between us and them.
"I have notice how caring Happy House children are and how they are much more willing to share than day pupils. They have to be asked to share a pencil sharpener or rubber and then as soon as it has been used will put it back in their case and hold it close. Happy House kids just share everything naturally."
Christina has spent most of her time working alongside teachers in school and is impressed with thre high standard of education our children are getting.She was also a great help in preparing the kids for the birthday show and was thrilled when Mama changed it from Fridayto Wednesday so that she wouldn't miss it.
"I couldn't have a better way to leave," she says.
Christina has been trying to explain the Happy House magic to others: "I have been sending very detailed emails and pictures home to my parents, my sister and my friends but I don't think anyone can full understand what the Happy House is like unless they have seen it for themselves.
"I am so glad that I have had a chance to meet Mama Sue, the person who has done all this. I don't know how I am going to jump from this to a world where there is everything .
"I think it is going to be hard to settle."
Christina was sorry to be leaving but takes away with her many memories plus a giant card and a Happy House t-shirt  presented by Francis who went unusually shy when someone suggested her give her a kiss.
She fully intends to stay in touch with the Happy House and to help raise awareness of our charity and the sponsored child scheme.
Goodbye Christina, thank you for all you have done to help our family ... you have been a real asset and we hope it won't be too long before you come back to see us again. We will miss you!

Following in Christina's footsteps is Jessika Poplawski, 19,  a social work student at Uclan, Preston, who lives in Blackpool.

Jess arrived on Tuesday to a rousing welcome from the kids.
She has eight weeks helping out at the Happy House which she and her parents visited last year while they were on holiday in Watamu. She was amazed to see how the building has changed and become even more of a family home.
Jessika also brought with her a cheque for £500 which she has raised with help from her student friends and which she presented to Mama Sue..
Welcome and thank you, Jess!